When we think of glamorous travel we usually think of London, Paris, New York and when we think of rugged travel we think of Nepal, Patagonia, and Alaska. While these locations have the reputation to back up the name, there are thousands of other travel destinations that, while known, are often overlooked. So this week, we are making a list of the underdogs, the black horses, the middle children of vacation spots. These places have a lot to offer and often have fewer crowds and lower prices than their mainstream counterpart.
Located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Paraty (pronounced Para-chee) is a tranquil fishing village with a bustling night life and some of the best fish. Ever. Founded as a Portuguese colony in the 16th century, Paraty still maintains several ancient traditions. If you are fortunate enough to stay within the old part of the city, you will notice a lack of cars. The cobblestone roads ward off vehicular traffic making Paraty one of the most pedestrian friendly cities in the world. However, the roads flood with the incoming tide, making sturdy, water-resistant footwear a must. Paraty is popular with local tourists but Americans and Europeans alike often get side-tracked by the topless beaches and booming nightlife of Rio (the city).
Wellington, New Zealand
Although woefully lacking Hobbits and other mythical creatures, Wellington, New Zealand is a great place to visit for any human. Nestled on the southern-most tip of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington is in an ideal location. Visitors are two hours from world-class kayaking, a short tram ride away from idyllic sailing conditions, and a few minutes walk away from a progressive underground music scene. While most tourists flock to Auckland and the southern Alps, parts of the North Island often remain overlooked. But with several international rankings as one of the best places in the world to live, cities like Wellington might not remain a hidden gem for long.
Inis Oirr, Ireland
I’m not going to lie, Inis Oirr is small. Really small. However, if you find yourself on this tiny island just a few hours off the coast of Galway city, you’ll find plenty of lovely things to do. There are ample walking trails (what we call hiking), clear, albeit cold, beaches, and a healthy fishing culture. Rent a bike and you can pretty much tour the whole Island on your own, just be sure to grab a pint at the Tigh Ned pub before catching the ferry back to the mainland.
Wilmington, North Carolina
The Southern States often come with their own set of stereotypes. Words like “red-neck”, “humidity”, and “heart disease” get thrown around a lot but Wilmington, North Carolina might change these harsh words to more flattering descriptions such as, “quaint”, “friendly”, and “cultured”. Home to one of the best blues festivals on the east coast as well as a thriving independent film scene, Wilmington is a simple pleasure with a rich history.
San Luis Obispo, California
Situated almost exactly between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo (SLO) offers a rare glimpse into “small town” California. To call SLO cute would be an understatement. Pristine beaches, dramatic cliff sides, delicious local restaurants and a climate that ranges from 64-81 degrees annually–God says, “Your welcome.”
Taos, New Mexico
A little more secluded than its equally artistic neighbor Santa Fe, Taos is a truly diverse travel destination. Whether you decide to come in the summer and spend time in one of the many art galleries or visit in winter and take advantage of the New Mexican ski scene, Taos will not disappoint.